10 ways to raise celiac awareness

May is National Celiac Disease Awareness Month, designed to raise awareness of this autoimmune disorder that affects about 1 in 133 people (and that doesn't count the probable tens of thousands affected by gluten intolerance), making it one of the most common yet mis- or undiagnosed health conditions in the world. Mary's Gone Crackers, maker of gluten-free snacks, and the Celiac Disease Foundation offer these 10 tips to promote awareness of celiac and gluten intolerance. And check out Delicious Living's brand-new Guide to Gluten-Free Living.

1. Support National Celiac Disease Awareness Month by spreading the word! Send out an email, or post it on Facebook or Twitter.

2. Prepare your favorite gluten-free dish [from Delicious Living!] for your next gathering, then print copies of your recipe and place it by your dish to share.

3. Write your congressperson and ask them to co-sponsor/support H. Con. Res 110 designating May as Celiac Disease Awareness Month.

4. Give the gift of health: Next time you give a gift, consider a basket filled with your favorite gluten-free products to let people know that you don’t have to be gluten intolerant to enjoy the healthy, wholesome taste! [Check out Delicious Living's roundup of our favorite gluten-free products.]

5. Contact the health editors of your local newspaper and ask them if they know about celiac disease. Write them a letter and share your story.

6. Share current books – Celiac Disease for Dummies, by Sheila Crowe, MD and Ian Blumer, MD; Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic by Peter H.R. Green, MD; or Healthier Without Wheat by Stephen Wangen, MD. Read them and pass them on to people who you think may benefit from learning more about celiac disease or how gluten may be the cause of their illness.

7. Find out if there is a health fair or vendor fair coming to your town and offer to set up a table with information on celiac disease and how to get tested. Contact the Celiac Disease Foundation for the free awareness brochures, “Are You The One?” which covers symptoms, testing, tips, and more.

8. Check to see if there are any local benefits or marathons that support celiac disease – join or volunteer! Check out Team Gluten-free and help raise awareness and funds through participation in local and regional races.

9. When you visit a friend or neighbor in the hospital, or have a regular physical or dental exam, take the opportunity to talk to doctors, dentists, nurses, healthcare workers, and dieticians to help increase their awareness of celiac disease and the gluten-free diet needs of celiac patients.

10. Word-of-mouth. The best way to raise awareness is to just tell somebody about celiac disease. Share your story!

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